Building a successful chatbot requires 3 essential considerations:
One can’t do without the others and each element in the process deserves attention from the very beginning.
A chatbot will never be perceived better than the delivered UX. UX matters. Design matters… that goes for both the visual chat interface and the conversational flow.
So, let’s start from an end:
“It’s all about appearances” would be an overstatement when it comes to chatbots. None the less, when talking UX we need to address the matter.
When it comes to the visual design of the chat interface, a simple layout with no unnecessary distractions is the way to go. Keep it simple and intuitive by drawing attention to the right element at the right time.
It is critical to ensure that the user intuitively knows which action prompts what result. Therefore, bear in mind that distinct interactions require distinct prompts/buttons. Never put the user in a situation where he or she doubts which button/prompt to use. Unpredictable reactions triggers distrust and unclear instruction would lead to just that.
There is a slight dilemma though… Because the simple solution to designing an intuitive interface will often be designing for safe choices. Users tend to be mistrustful of new technologies, and this mistrust translates into safe choices. Using UI components in chat is a great way to keep users on a happy path, but there is a pitfall: safe choices gives the illusion of limitations. It will work perfectly for chatbots built for simple purposes, while limited choices would not work at all for other purposes.
One last important note when it comes to interface design: Chatbots are really not all that different from humans. They are imperfect, and they make mistakes. Acknowledge this and design the interface accordingly by adding an undo or cancel functionality. Always give the user a way out or the ability to go back a step without having to start the conversation all over.
Each chatbot has its own unique conversational flow. It all depends on the purpose and what the user testing tells you about how your users seek to interact with you chatbot.
But none the less, there are a few golden rules to follow.
First of all, document all possible conversational flows. Unless (or even though) you are building a super-smart AI assistant, you will need some preset scenarios to start with. The AI will be able to learn patterns and scenarios over time, but to begin with you will need to develop conversational flows that account for onboarding, missing inputs, vague or irrelevant requests, request verification and resolution, changing terms or completely abandoning the flow. The more cases the better.
Secondly, guide your user. Interacting with chatbots can be frustrating for people of a certain age or background. Having proper on-boarding and solid user flows helps you engage your users and reduces frustrations. It’s really a matter of providing useful tips and examples on how to use your chatbot and how to ask questions. Always attempt to provide tailored suggestions to keep the user engaged and help him/her succeed with your bot.
Finally, remember that wording matters. On that account there are 4 things worth considering:
Building for an outstanding UX goes beyond the chat interface and the conversational flow. We have gathered a few best practice tips that can help pave the way to chatbot success:
Looking for the function and implementation articles?
Don’t worry, they are on their way.